Food & Drink

Mason jar cookbook provides recipes with convenience

Santa Fe Rice Bowl from Meals in a Jar
Santa Fe Rice Bowl from Meals in a Jar

This cookbook, is a well organized collection of inventive recipes. The premise is that fixing meals (in a mason jar) ahead of time lets the person on the go simply grab a meal and microwave it for a delicious, healthy, portion steady meal. It’s also a great option for a family with picky eaters or members who have particular food sensitivities. Something special for the person not eating the “regular” meal will be in the fridge. Since many of the recipes are in a single –portion size (even soups and stews) people living alone might find this book interesting since they will not have to go through the math calculations of downsizing recipes to achieve single portions.

You can see if this system works for you by trying it out in your own glass and other types of non reactive bowls and casserole dishes before investing in a lot of jars. Lots of good, interesting and very inventive recipes that rely on fresh, easily available ingredients, herbs and spices, Linton says. The point of the book is to make a few at the same time so you can grab and go.

You can easily just make one and eat it that day or the next, or you can double up the recipes and make two jars that you keep in the fridge so you can grab and go. Obviously, you can eat these meal anytime and anywhere but the mason jar adds a new level of portability which makes it great for taking to work, taking it with you if you know you’ll be out for the day or eating at home if you are time crunched and want to pull something from the fridge.”

This book is a prime example of why Baskin Robbins manufacturers 31 flavors. Not everything appeals to everybody. Mason jars are not for me. I fleetingly thought about using my existing casseroles to try out the method, but rejected that, realizing I would never invest in dozens of mason jars. I recognized that my lifestyle is one of eating at home or out. I am almost 70 and am not on the go as much as I was. Linton’s recipes though are amazing and in fact, I am making one of her soup recipes this Sunday, one of the few recipes that serves four.

I asked Linton some questions about adapting recipes and why she chose what seems to me a labor –intensive method (food in jars) as a time saver.

Q. Can you tell us why you chose the jar method?

A.The recipes are suited for people who eat on the go. They can easily be eaten at home, but I wanted them to be easy to make and easy to take. I didn’t want people to feel that they had to race around in the morning doing all of their daily chores plus making a meal to take with them. The recipes are simple enough that if you devote an hour or two on Sunday, you can have healthy options in your fridge for a few days.

Q. Is it really necessary to use a mason jar for the recipes? And, can we easilychange portions and ingredients and still retain the basic good taste of the recipe?

A. “All of the recipes don’t need to be used in a mason jar or presented in a mason jar. The salads are perfect for dinner any day at home. The portions are hearty so I would double up the recipe and serve them in a traditional bowl and have smaller portions as a starter before dinner. The desserts translate beautifully to the home. The mason jar is a really special way of individual presentation. The soups could easily be doubled and either used as a main (with some crusty bread and a salad) or served in tiny bowls as an appetizer. As far as substitutions go, in regards to the salads, it’s all about using what you love.

Don’t like red peppers - use tomatoes. Add green beans, asparagus, fennel...practically whatever you thing works for your palette”

The recipe below is a good example of one of her creative efforts that can easily be made and served in a bowl instead of putting it into a jar.

Santa Fe Rice Bowl

from 150 Best Meals in a Jar by Tanya Linton, reprinted with permission of Robert Rose Publisher

Ingredients

1-quart mason jar

11⁄4 cups water

1⁄2 cup long-grain brown rice

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄2 cup chopped avocado

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp hot pepper sauce

1⁄2 cup rinsed drained canned black beans

1⁄2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes

1⁄4 cup chopped orange bell pepper

1⁄4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Method

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Stir in rice and salt, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 to 50 minutes (see tip, at left) or until rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool completely.

Place avocado in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice, tossing to coat.

Spoon sour cream into jar and drizzle with hot pepper sauce, wiping down any splashes on the side of the jar. Layer rice, beans, tomatoes, avocado, orange pepper, cheese and cilantro. Seal jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Remove jar from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving, to bring it to room temperature.

Turn jar upside down in a bowl, scooping out the sour cream and "dolloping" it over the rice.

Tips from Tanya Linton

The package directions for most brown rice specify a longer cooking time, usually between 40 and 55 minutes, but I like to start checking for doneness at 30 minutes, to make sure it doesn’t get mushy. For crisper cilantro, cut out a small circle of parchment paper and place it on top of the cheese, then place the cilantro on top.

At A Glance

Title | 150 Best Meals in a Jar: Salads, Soups, Rice Bowls and More Paperback

Author | Tanya Linton

Length | 192 pages

Publisher | Robert Rose

Cost | $19.95

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